The fourth of eight division-by-division looks at the key position battles for each NFL team heading into training camps.
It's time for the Packers' Javon Walker to move past Donald Driver on the chart. (Getty Images)
Gage came on strong as a rookie last season, and has the team excited about his play. He had a 100-yard game against Arizona in late November on four catches. He doesn't run as well as those numbers suggest, but he found a way to make plays down the field. In the new offense under coach Lovie Smith, Gage should be even more effective. David Terrell has been a major disappointment after being a first-round pick in 2001. He had his best season in 2002, catching 43 passes, but he averaged only 8.4 per catch. That's not what the Bears hoped he'd bring. Maybe the change of offense will help him, and he's been committed this offseason to being a better player. He has the tools, but if he doesn't do it this year, the word flop will go next to his name.
Edge: Terrell. He's been around longer, even if both players are learning a new system.
Opening-day starter: Terrell. You'll be surprised how different he looks.
Streets was signed as an unrestricted free agent, and he knows the system well having played for coach Steve Mariucci in San Francisco. Streets is a tall, angular receiver who runs good routes but doesn't have that burning speed. He caught 47 passes last season after catching 72 the year before. Williams, the team's top pick in April, is a tall receiver who can run. The Lions hope that he will pair with Charles Rogers to form an explosive duo. How quick he picks up the system will be key.
Edge: Streets, only because he knows the system.
Opening-day starter: Williams. There's no way talent like his won't be in the starting lineup.
|June 28||AFC South|
|June 30||NFC South|
|July 3||AFC North|
|July 6||NFC North|
|July 8||AFC West|
|July 10||NFC West|
|July 13||AFC East|
|July 15||NFC East|
Edge: Walker. The Packers want him to be their deep threat and he runs better than Driver.
Opening-day starter: Walker. Now in his third season, it's his time.
When Bennett was hurt last year, Smith came on strong as a rookie, showing power and speed. Bennett is healthy again, so this will be an interesting competition. Bennett has explosive speed, which coordinator Scott Linehan loves, but doesn't have the power that Smith showed. Bennett can, however, rip off those 90-yard runs that are key in the Minnesota offense, which employs a lot of spread formations.
Edge: Bennett. He'll get the first shot to keep coming off the injury.
Opening-day starter: Bennett. But if he struggles, it won't be long until they go to Smith.